Meta is appealing the designation of its instant messaging platform Messenger and intermediation service Marketplace that would make them subject to Europe’s strict regime of ex-ante rules.
Under the Digital Markets Act, tech companies that have acquired such a dominant position in a part of the internet economy to become ‘gatekeepers’ between businesses and end users will have to follow a strict regime of dos and don’ts that will start to bite on March 2024.
In September, the European Commission designated six gatekeepers for 22 ‘core platform services’, ranging from social media like ByteDance’s TikTok to browsers like Google’s Chrome via operating systems like Microsoft’s Windows.
The concerned companies have until Wednesday (16 November) to appeal against the designation before the EU’s General Court. According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning to contest the designation of the App Store, whereas Reuters reported that Google and Microsoft do not intend to appeal.
“This appeal seeks clarification on specific points of law regarding the designations of Messenger and Marketplace under the DMA,” Meta’s policy communications manager, Matthew Pollard, told Euractiv.
“It does not alter or detract from our firm commitment to complying with the DMA, and we will continue to work constructively with the European Commission to prepare for compliance.”
According to Meta, Marketplace is a consumer-to-consumer product, as shown by the fact that there is a set limit to the number of items that a single user can list. As a result, this service would not constitute a gateway for businesses to reach end users.
As for Messenger, the company argues that this is simply the chat function of Facebook, which makes it a functionality of the social network that has already been designated as a core platform service.
In other words, Meta argues that just because Messenger is provided as a separate app from Facebook does not mean it is a separate service. Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg’s company considers there has been a disparity in the treatment of Apple’s iMessage.
The EU Commission is conducting a market investigation to assess whether iMessage meets the threshold to qualify as a core platform service. Google and Europe’s largest telecom operators have already requested such a designation, whilst Meta preferred not to join this initiative.
Importantly, the designation for instant messaging apps comes with an obligation to make the service interoperable with others upon request.
According to a Meta official, the company only has “very targeted, specific concerns,” especially around Messenger and Marketplace, and thinks there has been a misunderstanding of how these services operate.
The company seems to be reassuring that it is making considerable efforts to comply with the Digital Markets Act’s obligations and is in constructive talks with the EU executive over their compliance plans.
The European Commission declined Euractiv’s request for comment.
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